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Astrakhan: Astrakahn's Superstar Experience
Astrakhan - Astrakahn's Superstar Experience Album Art

Astrakahn's Superstar Experience

Melodic Hard Rock/Metal
3.5/5.0

The iconic mother of all rock operas, Jesus Christ Superstar, created by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics), made its album debut 50 years ago. In 1971, it became a Broadway musical featuring a young Ben Vereen as Judas. Fast forward to 2014 where we find Swedish metal band Astrakhan playing Gethsemane as encore song in their live sets. Then they got thinking, why not make hard rock/metal cover version of the rock opera? The result is a live recording of Astrakhan's Superstar Experience where the band covers 13 of the 24 songs from the original JCSproduction.

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Astrakhan

So, what do we make of their interpretation? Musically, it's pretty decent. The new musical format turns more upon melodic heavy metal rather than 70's counter-cultural pop rock. But Astrakhan essentially retains the original arrangements, their melodies an essential part. The arrangements also bring out the drama of the lyrical themes like Judas' doubts about Jesus' intentions in Heaven On Their Minds. Or Jesus's (misperceived) reluctance and doubts about dying on the cross within Gethsemane. Other entertaining and promising do-overs include Everything's Alright, The Temple (nice Middle-eastern vibe), and Superstar, the musical's iconic theme song. Curiously, Astrakhan didn't attempt a metal cover King Herod's Song, which was famous for its carnival-like song sarcasm. Nevertheless, Astrakhan's heavy metal interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar is an interesting and entertaining one that veers little from the original arrangements. But most of us agree, the music of JCS was creative, novel, and even ahead of its time back in 1970.

Yet, the music was never the issue, but rather the un-Biblical portrayal of Jesus. Jesus Christ is made merely human, gutted of all divinity. Jesus is made into a troubled man of questionable convictions who dies not for the sins of human beings to reconcile them to a holy God, but as social and political martyr at the hands of the despotic Roman empire. Moreover, His story is made even worse as the musical does not include his resurrection from the dead and ascension to God in heaven. Jesus dies, is buried, end of story. So, why is His story still alive and significant today? Because He is risen and alive even now.




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The Bottom Line

Astrakhan's heavy metal interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar is an interesting and entertaining one that veers little from the original arrangements. But most of us agree, the music of JCS was creative, novel, and even ahead of its time back in 1970.

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